UW iSchool looks at success in virtual collaboration

What social processes allow teams to collaborate on ambiguous, emergent problems? When payphones, princesses and beekeeping collide in an alternate reality game, players are forced to make sense of data scattered across the nation and the Internet. To understand how players collectively solve problems, the Institute for National Security Education & Research (INSER) has received a National Science Foundation award for a three year project on "Voluntary Virtual Organizations: Problem Solving through Collective Storytelling in MMOGs."

MMOGs are massively multiplayer online games. Working with co-Principal Investigator Wayne Lutters at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, UW iSchool Senior Lecturer Jeffrey Kim will investigate and create case studies of collective problem solving in digital, massively multiplayer games. This study provides a deep understanding of collective problem solving in voluntary virtual organizations, a critical step for technology developers, decision-makers, and individuals to succeed in a world increasingly dependent on networked volunteers solving real problems together.

INSER develops educational and research programs to understand complex public safety and national security issues in the area of management of information, technology and organizations. The Institute is one of the nation's ten Intelligence Community Centers of Academic Excellence (IC CAE) established by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. INSER hosts the Intelligence Community Colloquium each year to raise awareness about academic and practical issues related to national security. As part of similar efforts, INSER works with many departments at UW to help course development, host relevant lecture series and advance research activities.